A Free Syrian Army fighter walks past a torn poster amid the rubble in the old city of Aleppo, August 27, 2013.
Good morning! Here's what you need to know.
- Asian markets were lower. Japan's Nikkei fell -1.5%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed down -1.0%. Korea's Kospi index was off -0.1%. Stock exchanges in Dubai and Riyadh were also down big. European markets were also trailing across the board led by the DAX at -0.9%.
- Pending home sales data for July gets published at 10 am ET today. Analysts are expecting a -1.0% drop compared with -0.4% prior. That's the only major data point for Wednesday — but it's a pretty important one, as our Matthew Boesler explained yesterday.
- U.S. MBA mortgage applications fell -2.5% for the week ending Aug. 23 against -4.6% prior.
- Gold and oil are up again as commodities markets digest whether and how a U.S. strike on Syria would play out. The yellow metal climbed 0.3% to $1,424, while London-traded Brent crude contracts hit $115, an increase of 0.8%.
- The Rupee continued its unprecedented plunge overnight, ticking 68.75 against the dollar as fallout from a controversial grain spending bill, worries about U.S. fed tapering and persistent economic sluggishness in India continued to take a toll. "It is just impossible to put any realistic value to the rupee any more," AlJazeera quoted Uday Bhatt, a forex dealer with UCO Bank, as saying. The Rupee is now off 19% for the year.
- Turkey's Lira is also having a very bad week, now off -3% to as much as TL2.0681 against the dollar. We told you about what happened when the head of the country's central bank tried to calm markets about the drop-off (it totally backfired).
- The New York Times' website is still down for many users this morning after getting hacked by the pro-Assad group Syrian Electronic Army. The LATimes' Paresh Dave has details of how analysts think the group got access to the site: " Melbourne IT, an Australian firm that allows website owners to buy addresses such as latimes.com, said the downtime suffered by the New York Times website Tuesday began when hackers gained access to the user name and password of one of the company's sales partners. Using those reseller's credentials, hackers changed the records that tell computers around the world from where to download web pages when someone types NYTimes.com into an Internet browser." The Times is publishing stories at http://news.nytco.com/. The "Army" was also able to hack multiple foreign domain names of Twitter as well as Huffington Post's UK site.
- Japanese utility Tepco now says it actually found the contaminated water storage tank leak announced August 19 in July. And as expected, Japan's nuclear regulator upgraded the severity of the situation at failed nuclear plant to Level 3, meaning there is the potential for non-lethal but substantial radiation exposure. Tepco stock fell nearly 4% Wednesday.
- The UK Independent believes a new UN ruling could freeze all wind farm development in Britain and leave existing structures open to challenge. " The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process," Margareta Pagano reports.
- 17-year-old Victoria Duval beat former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur Tuesday. Duval is ranked 296th in the world, and as our Tony Manfred reports, has an incredible backstory that involves being held hostage and her father narrowly surviving the 2010 Haiti quake.
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